On the glorious twelfth it's time to start thinking about grouse recipes.
With that in mind, here’s how Simon Hopkinson cooks his roast grouse – and don’t forget the game crumble and bread sauce either.
Roast grouse recipe: Serves 2
2 oven-ready grouse, together with their livers and hearts, if possible
2 wooden cocktail sticks
About 75g butter, softened to room temperature
Salt and pepper
2 thick slices of white bread cut from an oval, country loaf, say Watercress
Firstly, tether the bird’s legs by skewering a wooden toothpick through the thinnest part of each leg while holding them tightly together, then plunge the point deeply into one thigh; this neat trick saves all that trussing palaver-and is equally applicable to all small game birds during their subjection to high heat and sizzling fat.
Pre-heat the oven to 220˚C/gas mark 7. Smear a little of the given butter onto the base of a solid, preferably cast-iron, deep-sided frying pan or similar style stove-top dish that will also survive the heat from a hot oven. Lay the two grouse on the butter, season them and then rub the soft butter all over the breasts and legs of the grouse.
Slide the birds onto the top shelf of the oven and roast for 7 minutes. Remove, baste generously with the, by now, frothing butter, and return to the oven. Roast for another 7 minutes more, baste again and add the livers and hearts (if you have them) to the butter surrounding the birds. Finally, roast for a further 5 minutes and remove from the oven.
To check that they’re done, use the thumb and forefinger and tweak the grouse breasts; they should have the bouncy spring of a shelled, hard-boiled egg and will result in perfectly pink flesh, once rested. Now, transfer the grouse to a plate, loosely cover with foil and keep warm.
Remove the hearts and livers from the roasting butter to a small bowl, mash together with a fork and spread onto the bread slices. Return these to the butter in the pan, mashed liver/heart side uppermost, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the underside of the bread has become golden-brown and crisp.
Remove to a plate lined with a double sheet of kitchen paper (to absorb excess fat) and keep warm with the grouse. Do not discard the roasting pan/dish.
In this state, the grouse are ready to be served. I used to think that some sort of gravy or some such was necessary, but now deem this to not be so. Correctly roasted and rested, the birds will exude their own juices onto the plate as you eat them.
The only other savoury accompaniments needed – and, for me, essential – are copious amounts of bread sauce and game crumbs. Some sprigs of well-washed watercress are the only other garnish one needs.
The perfect accompaniment to roast grouse
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